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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer

Turkey's carved and packed up, leftovers stashed away in Tupperware, the belt is loosened and the shirt's a little bit snugger...means Thanksgiving has come and passed once more.

I love Thanksgiving. I'm lucky to have much to be thankful for. Sandy and I just marked nine years of marriage, with much more "really darn good" if not "pantheon" moments and not too many "blahhh" times. We have our girlies, who we love and whom I'm pretty convinced they're all smarter than me already. We have our extended family and good friends and a house that keeps standing and jobs that keep paying and cars that keep starting. Do we have it all? No, perhaps we're not that close, at least materialistically speaking. But we choose to fill our hearts with love and hands with gratitude.

It's all part of the reason that Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday...and why I dislike it being trampled over by Christmas every single year. Kinda grinds my gears. Shops being open for Christmas shopping on Thanksgiving? Ugh. Nothing like trampling over someone for $30 off a blender the same day you're supposed to be thankful for what you have. Thanksgiving calls for peace of the soul, Christmas as celebrated secularly calls for not having enough...or for buying, buying, buying to prove your love for someone.

Sorry for long preamble, I blame the excess tryptophan flowing through my bloodstream right now. And what does this have to do with Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer?

When I sat down to write this, I really was thinking of this dairyfree creamer in terms of it being a "Christmas" item. "Cocoa peppermint coffee creamer" just sounds inherently Christmassy, like it should be guzzled by lactose-intolerant Santas all across the land. But of course that's a little bit preposterous, it's more of a general winter/colder weather combo, but explains why even we've had it around for over a week, I'm just getting around to the review now. Save the Christmas stuff for after Thanksgiving, right?

It's a decent creamer, though. I poured some in my coffee the other morning and didn't immediately hate it, which is saying something as I usually just do mine black. There's a pleasant balance of mint and chocolate, without either being too overpowering or cloy or sickeningly sweet or anything. Also, there's a little bit of nuttiness too. It's a good flavor, and it didn't color my coffee too tan either. Sandy is a big fan, as she prefers alternate milks and creamers but usually doesn't like almond ones as they can be too thin and watery. "It's almost as creamy as regular cream," she said. I'd take her word for it.

So maybe instead of bah-humbugging too much, I can choose once again to be thankful, even for something small like a flavored coffee creamer that I'm not completely enamored with. It's good enough, vegan, dairyfree, at a good value ($1.99!), and represents a lot of what is right with Trader Joe's as a store. And I got to write about it for a blog I love and an audience I'm pretty fond of, too. Y'all are pretty great. Hope you had a great Thanksgiving and will have a fulfilling run through your holiday season ahead. Gonna need some coffee to keep ya going, it's not the worst idea to spill some of this creamer in at least every once in a while.

Bottom line: Trader Joe's Cocoa Peppermint Flavored Almond Creamer: 7.5 out of 10 Golden Spoons 

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Trader Joe's Cranberry Chevre

Crantastic. Tarterrific. Chevtacular.

Move over, cranberry sauce. I don't know how well this cheese would pair with turkey and stuffing, but I'd rather see this stuff on my Turkey Day spread, personally.

In my opinion, this is the best fruit and goat cheese pairing possible. It's the double dose of tartness that gets me. Sure, there's a good bit of sweetness from the cranberries—both natural and added, but by and large, this is a mouth-puckering, tart, tangy, sour patch people, spread-on-bread but preferably water crackers kind of snack here. Pairs nicely with a malbec or merlot. I just looked it up right now and wine people are telling me that it goes best with a Cabernet Franc. If they say so. I've never even heard of it. Cabernet Sauvignon? Sure. 

I'm learning to appreciate sweeter chevres like blueberry vanilla more than I did in years past, but every time I try them, there's still this notion that "blueberry vanilla" should be an ice cream flavor, not a goat cheese flavor. 

When I taste this stuff...I feel like this is why God invented goats. 

There's the perfect amount of smooshed, dried cranberry matter all around the outside of the cheese. If it's straight outta the fridge, it's a bit difficult to spread. I think the flavor comes across a little better, too, when the cheese has been left at room temperature for a spell. Most of the time, the cranberries stick to the cheese pretty tenaciously, yielding a well-balanced cheese to berry ratio in each bite. Water crackers provide the best neutral venue for this chevre to shine—not just flavor-wise, but the crispness serves as the perfect foil to the cheese's smooth creaminess.

Sonia liked the cheese, too, adding that the product has a melt-in-your-mouth quality that she wasn't expecting. "It feels like a fall food since it's so cranberry-ish," she said.

Four stars from her. Four and a half from me. 

Happy Thanksgiving, all!

Bottom line: 8.5 out of 10.

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